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Bisbee Tours - Things To Do In Bisbee AZ - Bisbee Mine Tour - Bisbee History Tour

OLD BISBEE AZ

Old Bisbee AZ or the city of Bisbee AZ is the cornerstone of every tour and it's no different with Big Jeep Tours because downtown Bisbee is part of all three signature Bisbee tours.

The city of Bisbee AZ starts with the warrior Geronimo, an Apache Indian from the Chiricahua Apache tribe. The warrior Geronimo and his followers were on the warpath in the Cochise County AZ area because white men tried to imprison him on the san carlos apache reservation and Mexican men raided his camp, killing his mother, wife, and children.

Geronimo Riding Horse-Chiricuahua Apache

In 1877, the US Calvary of the US Army, led by Lt  John Rucker was chasing renegade Apache up Mule Gulch (main st and Tombstone Canyon today). after finding heavily mineralized, poisonous water near Sacramento Hill, the military group decided to camp in the area just west of Brewery Gulch AZ today. 

man sitting wearing vintage military uniform

Needing fresh water, John Rucker sent their scout Jack Dunn up Mule Gulch in search of fresh water. Jack Dunn found fresh water at the Apache Springs Well which is in the lobby of the Inn at Castle Rock today. 

Jack Dunn-John Dunn_edited.jpg

Jack Dunn found much more than water, on his way back down the canyon, he found signs of mineralization near a huge boulder on Bucky O Neil Hill by a giant boulder called the IRON MONSTER.

Jack Dunn took his findings to LT John Rucker and they decided to pursue mining claims in the area. Upon returning to today's Fort Bowie National Historic Site, John Rucker, Jack Dunn, and T.D. Byrne decided to hire a miner and prospector named George Warren to go to Mule Gulch in the Mule Mountains and start a mining claim at the site of the iron monster in the soldiers' names (grubstaking).

George Warren-Mining Pick-Agave_edited.j

George Warren took the soldier's money, and went to Tombstone AZ, and proceeded to get drunk for a while. Eventually, George Warren made his way to Mule Gulch and started the mining claim at the site of the iron monster called The Copper Queen Mine in his own name. The Warren Mining District was underway. 

All of the people who started what would become the city of Bisbee AZ failed to capitalize on their efforts. George Warren failed to include John Rucker and Jack Dunn in the initial claim, stealing their money. John Rucker died in a flash flood in the Chiricahua Mountains a year later and Jack Dunn disappeared.

George Warren lost his claims in foolish bets or had his claims taken from him and died a penniless pauper after watching what he started, the Copper Queen Mine, become a successful copper mine in copper mining history.

mine entry on side of hill above businesses

The first copper mining smelters of the day used timber as fuel and cleared the Mule Mountains of its Spruce, Pine, Oak, Juniper, and Cottonwood timber forests. The timber ran dry and the mining smelters had to retrieve timber from the Chiricahua Mountain Range. Today, the Mule Mountains are covered with second-generation scrub bushes because the trees are gone. 

smelter buildings coming off hill with a man working in front

In the late 1870s and early 1880s, the Warren Mining District was still in danger of Apache raids. If an Apache raid was suspected, the copper miners used the bell at Central School to sound the alarm and every resident in the mining camp would run into the Copper Queen Mine while the US Army stood guard at its entrance.

yeloow school building with arched entry and tall bell tower

The ore body of the Copper Queen Mine ran dry in 1882. Investors and miners alike searched for more copper ore for two years with no luck. The Warren Mining District was threatened with becoming a ghost town.

Finally, James Douglas representing the Phelps Dodge Mining Corporation found a massive copper ore vein in the same hill that started the first Copper Queen Mine, Bucky O Neil Hill.

man with white beard and glasses in portrait

The James Douglas discovery coincided with the age of electricity and its massive copper demand. Consequently, the area exploded with more copper mines and more residents. The copper boom was well underway and Old Bisbee AZ reached a population of 25,000 residents.

Residents and the miners needed a wood-cutting company to clear the mountains of timber, supply the wood to the mining company, and sell the wood door-to-door.

men, women, and donkeys with firewood in front of cabin

Old historic Bisbee needed a Brewery in town for beer making because delivered beer was impossible to keep fresh without a rail system. The first brewery encouraged the name Brewery Gulch.

men standing in front of beer kegs

Flooding caused many problems for the early miners. Monsoon season flash floods that started in June washed away many initial structures.

raging flood running past houses

A freshwater well in Zacatecas Canyon above Brewery Gulch met the needs of the Warren Mining District. Like wood cutting, a water company with mules, donkeys, and canvas bags collected water and sold it door-to-door.

men stading with burros carrying water bags

The first cemetery was located where the city park is today in lower Brewery Gulch AZ.

The population explosion that accompanied Dr James Douglas' copper ore discovery in Bucky O Neil Hill along with monsoon floods carrying corpses into Brewery Gulch caused the copper miners to move the cemetery to its new location in 1892, historic Evergreen Cemetery in Lowell AZ.

Dr James Douglas built the first railway system causing immediate copper mining efficiencies and profit. The railway system allowed the smelter to bring in coal and coke as fuel to fire the smelter furnaces.

Steam engine on tracks with men sitting on its front

The railway was called the "Arizona & Southeastern Railroad". The tracks traveled south through the grassy hills of soon-to-be Warren AZ, wrapped around the hills, headed west, and curved towards the San Pedro River until it connected to Fairbanks AZ, a suburb of Tombstone AZ.

The copper mining boom that accompanied DR James Douglas' ore discovery caused the need for e bigger, better, more efficient smelter to handle the workload.

Community leaders looked to an investment firm in San Francisco CA to finance a second smelter. Two of the three investors were brothers Ben Williams and Lewis Williams. After visiting the Warren Mining District, both brothers chose to stay and work for James Douglas and the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company. 

The third investor who never set foot in the area was Judge Dewitt Bisbee. Community leaders were so grateful for the second smelter, they decided to name the mining camp Bisbee Arizona.

The second smelter is home to the Queen Mine Tour today.

After the copper mining boom started, local merchants started price-gouging residents by increasing the general cost of goods. 

men and horses standing in front of copper queen store

Dr James Douglas, the real father of Bisbee, built the Copper Queen Store and lowered the goods for miners and residents. The Copper Queen Store was located in the same building as The Table restaurant and Bisbee Coffee Company today. The Copper Queen Store sold groceries, clothing, and textiles and miners could purchase goods on credit.

The Copper Queen Store was in the location of the Phelps Dodge Mercantile building today.

Local police used the giant stairwells to judge the mining camp's imbibers and intoxication levels. 

cars a house and tall stairs

If an intoxicated miner could negotiate the huge stairs and get inside their door, they were free and clear. If a miner couldn't make it into his residence, the Police threw them in the pokey for the night.

Copper miners in the early mining camp, before there was a police department, took the law into their own hands.

leaveless tree in concrete base on side of hill

Early investors rode by the hanging tree at the base of Castle Rock and a corpse was hanging below it. The investors agreed to proceed with area investment but decided it was a good idea to build a library in order to bring civility to the queen of the copper camps. Hence, the reason for the construction of the first Copper Queen Library. 

The Bisbee Massacre happened on Main ST in 1883 and rivals any treacherous Tombstone gunfight story in history. Five innocent citizens were killed including a pregnant woman.

After sentencing, Bisbee folks didn't like the verdict for the Bisbee Massacre's leader John Heath. A new posse rode to the Tombstone Courthouse, yanked Heath out of his cell, and hung him from a telegraph pole on Toughnut Street. The location of the Bisbee Massacre is the Letson Loft Hotel today.

 

Dr James Douglas, the real father of Bisbee, donated his first residence to the city as its first Copper Queen Hospital.

A young man from Morenci AZ married the daughter of John Diamos,  the owner of the Lyric Theater. As one of his first jobs, the young man managed the Lyric Theater for 10 years. 

Ted DeGrazia_edited.jpg

The young man was Ted DeGrazia, soon to become a world-famous American impressionist painter. Your tour guide watched Star Wars, Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind when they came out in the 1970s at the Lyric Theater.

Because the Mule Mountain Range is made of solid granite, massive flooding happens during the monsoon rains; especially in Brewery Gulch.